Rapid recap of the week that was: Ohio State and Nebraska were off this week. Wisconsin took care of business against Maryland at home. Northwestern edged Iowa in overtime. Rutgers won their second straight game, this time against Purdue. Our Illinois Fighting Illini lost by just one touchdown to Minnesota in Cam Thomas’ debut. Michigan State won back the Old Brass Spittoon after falling to Indiana in 2016. Penn State stars Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley poured it on Michigan to the tune of a 42-13 blowout win.
Big Ten Top Performers
Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards
Wisconsin junior linebacker T.J. Edwards set the tone early in the first quarter against Maryland. He scored a touchdown on a 54-yard pick-six on a ball thrown by Terps quarterback Max Bortenschlager.
What a year Wisconsin's T.J. Edwards is having. Will be All-Big Ten candidate for sure and possibly in the mix for national honors.— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 21, 2017
Wisconsin is so good at dictating tempo with its offense, anytime their defense can put points on the board is an added bonus for a team that clearly gets the job done on both sides of the ball.
The story of this game will be running back Jonathan Taylor and the elite company he now joins after becoming one of the only freshmen in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first seven career games.
Rutgers running back Gus Edwards
Rutgers is 2-2 in the Big Ten after beating Illinois a week ago and Purdue at home in Week 8. In a low-scoring, ugly game, Rutgers running back Gus Edwards had the play of the day.
Love Gus Edwards. Just ripped off a 76-yard TD run to put #Rutgers ahead early pic.twitter.com/FgNdSWgU53— Dustin Schutte (@Schutte_B1GFB) October 21, 2017
Edwards has 185 yards and three touchdowns in Rutgers’ last two games.
Illinois and Purdue of the Big Ten West were considered winnable games for these Scarlet Knights. Next week the level of competition ramps up when Rutgers heads to Ann Arbor to play Michigan back in their own division.
Michigan State’s balanced offense in the clutch
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke played well when it mattered most. Bulldozing running back L.J. Scott (stupidly) scored the game sealing touchdown with just over three minutes left in the game. Wide receiver Cody White made some big plays down the field. Pick your poison with Sparty; they can beat teams through the air and on the ground.
Something has to be said for Michigan State’s ability to win close games. Mark Dantonio’s squad won last night 17-9. They beat Minnesota last week 30-27. The week before they beat Michigan 14-10. The last weekend of September Sparty beat Iowa 17-10. After last season’s unexpected and embarrassing 3-9 record, Michigan State is now rolling in games they are expected to win.
#V4MSU Michigan State is bowl eligible after 3-9 last year that's a helluva an acommplishment. Undefeated in Big Ten, 6-1 Overall. With the youngest team, a lot of credit goes to @DantonioMark for his excellent coaching job.— Joseph P. Chapp (@JosephPChapp) October 21, 2017
Is Sparty in the same conversation as Penn State and Ohio State? We find out in the next few weeks: Penn State at home November 4. Ohio State on the road November 11.
Minnesota running back Kobe McCrary
Kobe McCrary is not a small running back at 240 pounds. Combine his power running skills with a porous Illinois run-defense, it’s no surprise a truck like Kobe McCrary was able to run riot against the Fighting Illini.
Kobe McCrary with a powerful jump cut on that last run. He picks up so many yards after contact and runs with balance. He's averaging 10.6 yards per carry right now.— Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) October 21, 2017
The JUCO transfer answered the bell with Shannon Brooks missing the game due to injury. McCrary moved the pile time and time again, wearing the Illinois defense down in the fourth quarter.
With Gophers quarterback Demry Croft struggling to throw the football, Minnesota had no choice but to commit to the run. The Golden Gophers had 292 yards on the ground in a game that wasn’t as close as the 24-17 scoreline suggests.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley
Blink and he scores. Saquon Barkley’s impact for the high-flying Nittany Lions offense was felt from his first carry against Michigan. He had 109 yards and two touchdowns before halftime:
#PennState on the board within 43 sec. Saquon Barkley to the house. #MICHvsPSU #WeAre #WhiteOut pic.twitter.com/CRpdX29ftf— Fred Sox (@RealFredSox) October 21, 2017
The best players in team sports have a tendency to make their teammates better. That’s what Saquon Barkley does even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands — he’s a decoy defenses often chase and overreact to, leaving quarterback Trace McSorley and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton with open looks.
Once again it was rough goings for the John O’Korn led Wolverines offense. Penn State didn’t care and rode the best running back in the country to victory.
The game of the Big Ten season (especially now that Michigan has two losses) comes next week when Ohio State hosts Penn State in Columbus. Remember, the Buckeyes are coming off of a bye and will have an extra week to prepare and get healthy for this game.